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What Is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)?

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What Is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)?

What Is Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)?

Recruitment is a time-intensive process that has long-lasting effects on your organization’s future. For small business owners, it may not be practical to attempt to master recruiting on top of all other responsibilities. 

Luckily, you don’t have to. Thanks to recruitment process outsourcing, if you wish, you can leave recruiting to the professionals. 

What Is Recruitment Process Outsourcing?

Recruitment process outsourcing, or RPO, is a method of business procedure outsourcing in which an external company takes care of all elements of an organization’s recruiting and talent acquisition needs.

In today’s competitive business landscape, it is especially challenging to accomplish everything involved with running a company while also investing the necessary time and expertise into a strategic recruitment strategy. 

Luckily, recruitment process outsourcing enables businesses to entrust their recruiting process into the hands of professionals. Depending on your business’s needs, an RPO provider can utilize your team and technology, bring in their own resources, or a combination of the two. 

No matter the details, RPO providers will take care of everything from candidate sourcing to onboarding excellent new hires. 

RPO providers differ from other recruitment providers (like staffing agencies or contingent or retained search providers) as they always take responsibility for recruitment strategy, execution, and results. If they fail to provide satisfactory results, you can hold your RPO provider accountable. 

Utilizing an RPO service can bring peace of mind to business owners as they won’t have to supervise employees or contractors or assume the risk for the process. 

Benefits of Recruitment Process Outsourcing

As most business owners have experienced, recruiting is a fairly difficult and complex process. When recruitment is executed poorly, bad hires can negatively impact productivity and morale, and stretch your hiring budget. 

Effective recruiting requires a working understanding of the labor market, proficiency in a range of related software, and the soft skills necessary to build connections with candidates and ensure the health of your workforce. 

If you don’t have the time, resources, or desire to become a recruiting expert, the good news is that you don’t have to! 

Recruitment process outsourcing connects your business with experienced recruiting professionals. Partnering with an RPO firm grants access to specialized expertise and technology and can significantly reduce time-to-hire, minimizing the negative impact of a vacancy in your workforce. 

RPO also provides scalability and flexibility, as your provider will work with you to tailor their services to help you reach your talent acquisition goals. Here is a breakdown of the key functions they perform. 

Understanding Business Goals

Once they are hired, RPO providers work closely with their clients to understand their business objectives and recruitment needs. This enables them to align their strategies and resources to produce satisfactory results for everyone involved. 

Though they can help you achieve your existing talent acquisition goals, RPO providers can also help craft a plan for the future. By analyzing business trends, growth projections, and industry demands, RPO providers can also assist clients in forecasting their future staffing requirements. 

Sourcing and Engaging Talent

RPO providers employ various channels and techniques to market client job openings. These include leveraging job boards, social media platforms, referrals, and networking. 

RPO providers can also help develop your employer brand to ease future talent acquisition. They may also focus on creating talent communities and pipelines and establishing relationships with potential future hires to ensure a steady pool of candidates for future staffing needs.

Candidate Assessments

Unlike other recruiting organizations, RPO providers go beyond simply identifying potential candidates. They also assess candidates’ skills, competencies, and motivators to determine their suitability for the job to ensure the best possible hiring results for their clients. 

This evaluation process helps ensure that candidates possess the necessary qualifications and also fit into the company culture.

Candidate Care

Managing the candidate experience is vital to recruitment, so it is also an essential aspect of an RPO provider’s responsibilities. 

RPO services also include assisting clients in delivering a positive candidate experience at every stage of the recruitment process. From initial outreach to the interview process and offer stage, RPO establishes a positive candidate experience. 

Overall, RPO providers bring expertise, resources, and a strategic approach to the recruitment process. Their involvement can significantly improve recruitment outcomes, support business objectives, and contribute to the overall success of an organization.

Steps In Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruitment process outsourcing can be a vital asset for businesses looking to improve their recruiting, but how exactly does it work? RPO shares many steps with traditional in-house recruiting, but there are a few differences. 

1. Needs Assessment and Scoping

If you’ve decided to utilize an RPO, the first step is to think about your business needs. How is recruiting accomplished currently? What aspects of your recruitment process are not providing results? What are your goals for the upcoming year?

During this stage, you should also assemble a list of relevant recruiting metrics to clearly demonstrate your areas of strength and the more problematic areas. For more information on recruiting metrics, check out our article on Important Recruiting Metrics to Track.

2. Vendor Selection

Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for in an RPO, it’s time to select a vendor. Referrals may come in handy, but be sure to research a firm before scheduling a consultation. 

Though they all provide a similar service, RPO providers will vary in their technology, talent acquisition strategy, and other aspects of the recruiting process. 

Ask your provider about their approach to integrating with your current processes, as this could impact the likelihood of a positive partnership with your organization. 

If they rely entirely on their own resources, you may want to consider how this will impact your current employees and recruitment processes. Still, this could be a positive element if you want to revive your recruitment process and start fresh. 

Both approaches can be successful, but it’s important to align expectations before beginning a partnership. 

3. Transition and Implementation

During the transition process, be sure to communicate all of your expectations for the partnership. It’s important to share what is currently unsatisfactory and why you’ve decided to outsource recruitment, so the RPO provider can work to remedy the situation. 

Share information about your current process and infrastructure to open a discussion about what will be changed and what will remain in place. It’s also important to communicate with your employees about how RPO will impact their responsibilities and day-to-day routine to reduce any feelings of disruption. 

4. Performance Monitoring and Management

Even though RPO providers will take care of all aspects of recruiting, employers should stay engaged in the process. 

Frequent communication and opportunities for feedback can help develop a working relationship and mutual understanding between the RPO provider, employer, and even the potential candidates involved in the process. 

5. Best Practices for Successful Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Though finding the right RPO provider for your business is half the battle, there are still steps you should take to help ensure the best results. 

Be sure to clearly define your goals and expectations for the partnership to avoid any costly communications and improve the experience for all parties. 

The best way to do this is to establish effective communication channels that make it easy for your team (especially the HR department) and your RPO provider to stay in touch and collaborate when needed. 

Things To Consider in Recruitment Process Outsourcing

Recruiters handle a lot of personal information about candidates, so data security and confidentiality are important aspects of ethical recruiting. If you choose to outsource your recruiting process, be sure to confirm that applicants’ data is protected. 

If their data is leaked, most candidates won’t care that it was an RPO provider and not your organization itself that put their information at risk. The same is true for other legal and regulatory requirements, so be sure to ask your provider for clarification if there’s anything you’re uncertain about. 

Another thing to consider before choosing an RPO provider is their alignment with your organizational culture and values. Though they remain external to your company, RPO providers function as your representatives, and you’ll want to make sure whoever you hire will uphold your values and reputation.


If you want to optimize your recruiting process, RPO is an excellent option. Entrusting your recruitment process to an experienced provider can ease your workload and improve your hiring results.

Still, recruiting has significant impacts on all aspects of your business, so be sure to thoroughly research an RPO provider before bringing them on board. Once you’ve entered a partnership, constant communication will help ensure satisfied parties and successful recruitment. 

Recruitment Process Outsourcing FAQs

What types of organizations can benefit from RPO?

RPO can benefit organizations of various sizes and industries. It is particularly useful for companies with high-volume hiring needs, rapid growth, or limited internal recruiting resources. Small and large businesses can leverage RPO to streamline their recruitment processes and achieve better hiring outcomes.

How does RPO differ from traditional staffing agencies?

While both RPO and staffing agencies assist with hiring, there are notable differences. RPO providers typically take a more strategic and comprehensive approach to recruitment, managing the entire process from start to finish. They often work on a long-term basis and act as an extension of the client’s HR team. In contrast, staffing agencies primarily focus on sourcing and placing candidates for specific job openings.

Is RPO suitable for all types of positions?

RPO can be applied to a wide range of positions, from entry-level to executive roles. However, its suitability may vary depending on factors such as the volume of positions, the complexity of job requirements, and the level of expertise needed for sourcing and screening candidates. RPO providers can customize their services to align with the specific needs of different positions and industries.

How is data security handled in RPO?

Data security is a crucial consideration in RPO. Reputable RPO providers have robust security measures in place to protect confidential candidate information and comply with relevant data privacy regulations. Establishing clear data protection agreements and ensuring that the RPO provider follows industry best practices for data security is essential.

Can RPO be customized to align with an organization's culture and values?

Yes, RPO can be customized to align with an organization’s culture and values. When selecting an RPO firm, choosing a partner that understands your company’s culture and can effectively represent your employer brand in the recruitment process is essential. Open communication and collaboration with the RPO provider are key to cultural fit.

How can the success of RPO engagement be measured?

The success of an RPO engagement can be measured through various metrics, such as time-to-fill, cost-per-hire, quality-of-hire, candidate satisfaction, and retention rates. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly monitoring and evaluating these metrics can help assess the effectiveness of the RPO partnership and drive continuous improvement.

Is using an RPO service a long-term commitment?

The duration of an RPO engagement can vary depending on the organization’s needs and the agreement with the RPO provider. It can range from short-term projects to long-term partnerships. Some organizations opt for a phased approach, gradually outsourcing different recruitment functions over time. Flexibility is typically available to align with the organization’s goals.

How does AI impact recruitment process outsourcing?

Recruitment is an ever-changing process, and the AI revolution has pushed those changes through even faster. Many RPO providers and in-house recruiters have begun using artificial intelligence and machine learning to expedite candidate screening. 

These tools can be beneficial, but you’ll want to keep an eye on the process nonetheless. At least for now, there’s no substitute for the human touch.